Upon hearing the exciting news that we’re in a gig economy, I left the security of my Fortune 500 job and became a “Gig-ist.” Keep the cubicle! I’m out! Now I gig, which is to say I freelance, along with 35 percent of Americans.
I imagined the bliss of working in my PJs, a hot cup of coffee in my favorite mug, and no performance reviews. Some of this picture is accurate, and 79 percent of those who freelance report they prefer it to Corporate America. But this work style has its challenges, which I rarely see in Gig-ite news.
Keep going when no one is looking
1. You still work. A lot.
Work hour flexibility does not equate to “never working.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Sometimes you sell all day so you can work all night.
While I’m head-down into a large project, I must look across the horizon for my next job. Time management for a freelancer means having the work ethic to keep going when no one is looking, and creating an income from thin air. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Do all the things
2. Because you work at home, you’re going to handle all the house work too.
Work space flexibility means many Gig-ians work at home. I’ve been asked if I enjoy getting the laundry done during the day. Who wouldn’t love being two people at the same time? There’s nothing quite as motivating as deadlines and a dirty house staring at you.
Trying to focus on a gig with a plumber in my basement and pets competing for my attention is as distracting as cubicle-life. Because I’m the spouse with the home office, home-based tasks often fall to me.
Bosses. Bosses everywhere…
3. There’s so, so many people to answer to.
When you’re a Gig-er, you trade one boss for an endless string of bosses. Every contract equates to a paying customer, so you report to superiors of all styles. Working in several cultures can be challenging, as I have just a few minutes to build trust before I must hit the ground running. When a difficult contract ends, I can walk away, but I also hope my best contracts renew for additional work. Nothing is permanent in the gig economy.
Kids + Work in the same environment = Chaos
4. Kids are a competition for your attention.
School breaks and sick kids do not speak Gig-ese. I negotiated my largest contract with a feverish child next to my desk and a cat puking behind me.
Want a quick way to ruin a summer? Convince yourself that kids can entertain themselves while you become your own boss. School drop-offs, pick-ups, and breaks often fall to the parent with the “flexibility”, which can be a challenging position in spousal negotiations.
Why it’s worth it
Overall, I do prefer the positives of being a Gig-Nation constituent. Last week I worked in a Prince T-shirt for more days than I care to admit. There are work commitments which require I set down my favorite coffee mug and leave my home office, but these days are the exceptions, not the rule.
When I need my family to experience the benefits of my “flexibility,” I’ve been known to accept gigs which take me away from the house, mandating they take on the demands of running the house.
I’m a SURVIVOR
Above all else, Gig-lers are creative survivors. And you should check out my company holiday party! Don’t bother buying a new dress — old jeans and a desire to fold laundry will be more than enough!